Keens Park Rangers inflicted an impressive 4-0 defeat on Windlesham United in the Premier Challenge Cup to continue their impressive form in recent weeks.
Scarred from ‘one of the worst performances ever’ vs. Windlesham in the league last month, Gary Mitchell and Mick Harrison knew the First Team needed a strong start and they got exactly that after Owen Stutchbury forced a good save from the ‘keeper from Bruce McPhail’s free-kick before Liam Harrison instinctively smashed home the rebound.
The Golds, playing downhill, completely dominated the first half and the defence looked comfortable in dealing with the away side’s direct approach. Windlesham did force Ben Wicherek to hook the ball off the line from a corner, but that was all they were reduced to in the first half.
Keens Park doubled their lead mid-way through the half when Ryan Wallis robbed the defender and crossed it towards Seamus Leonard, who reacted first to yet another good save from the ‘keeper, to poke home his second goal in as many games.
Stephen Kemp, playing in his natural position out wide, was the pick of the first half performers and was a constant threat with his pace. He had the chance to make it three after an inch perfect pass from Liam Harrison, but he couldn’t quite lift the ball over the ‘keeper in time. Liam Harrison himself had a glorious chance, but he dragged his effort just wide.
Content with the first half performance, the team-talk was “more of the same, please!” knowing that Windlesham were likely to come out all guns blazing after being outplayed in the first half.
The away side definitely had the better of the opening stages in the second half, with Keens Park starting slowly. The Golds were again thankful for Ben Wicherek’s defensive discipline as he stayed on his post to hoik another goal-bound effort off the line.
However, Keens Park’s defence remained resolute, and it started to frustrate the opposition. Windlesham’s centre midfielder received two quick-fire yellow cards and the game shifted yet again.
Doug Noble, making his first start for the side, was the catalyst for the shift in momentum and his movement on and off the ball was proving too much for the opposition. Noble grabbed his first goal after smashing the ball home after Stephen Kemp decided to run into the ‘keeper when sent through one-on-one.
Windlesham were tiring and Dan Way, coming on as a substitute, was finding a lot of joy down the left with his tricky footwork and nearly scored the goal of the season after first stealing the soul of the right back with his trademark nutmeg before beating another man, but his outside-of-the-boot effort was saved by the ‘keeper. Seamus Leonard was in acres of space in the middle but even he did not moan after Way’s incredible piece of individual skill.
Doug Noble made it four after superbly picking the ball outof the air before emphatically finishing to cap a Man of the Match performance and an impressive team display.
With nine points from a possible 12, the lads thought this victory ensured progression into the knockout stages of the Premier Challenge Cup until Gary Mitchell gave the bad news that the league had decided to make each side play home and away!